Thursday, November 12, 2015

Honour for Hyndburn hero who helped earthquake-hit Himalayan village

by Chris Gee:

A HYNDBURN Rotarian has received a national award for his work helping bring running water to an earthquake-hit Himalayan village.

George Blenkinship, who is international chairman of the Rotary Club of Church and Oswaldtwistle, was rewarded for the “outstanding work he has spearheaded” in a major project in Nepal.

He was handed the coveted Paul Harris Fellowship Award and a certificate from the Rotary Organisation in England and Ireland, presented by district governor Arthur Jones.

The 62-year-old, who lives in Clitheroe, joined the organisation in 2009 and became involved in its overseas efforts.

When Mr Blenkinship was asked by a fellow member to investigate the feasibility of a water project in Nepal, he made a presentation to the club and asked the members if they would support his ambitious project.

The village of Maikot in Nepal was identified and a connection was made with the Rotary club of nearby Gorkha. He then went out to Nepal to meet villagers.

Previously, any water had to be collected from the valleys by filling buckets and carrying them back up the hill.

Mr Blenkinship was hailed as a hero by the locals who turned out to cheer him during his stay.

In 2014, a year after George’s return from Nepal, a Waterworks fundraiser was held at Ewood Park which raised more than £9,000.

A matching grant ensured £40,000 was made available but, as the project was nearing completion, the Gorkha region of Nepal suffered a crushing earthquake.

The catastrophe, on April 25 this year, put the scheme on hold as the pumping station was damaged, leaving George to raise a further £12,329 which was used by the Maikot village to provide immediate shelter and to build 36 temporary school buildings.
Fortunately, work restarted in August to finally provide villagers with access to fresh water.

Michael Jackson, of the Rotary Club of Church and Oswaldtwistle, said: “Without doubt, George has been an inspiring figure from the start of this project and must be highly congratulated for all the work and effort he has put into this water system.”
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